The Los Angeles Lakers, Julius Randle's favorite team while growing up, took the former University of Kentucky star with the seventh pick of Thursday night's NBA Draft.
“I think I should have went higher for sure, but the teams that passed on me will regret it,” Randle told ESPN right after getting picked. “But I’m not worried about it. I was offered some great advice before this: ‘It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.’ And L.A.’s a perfect spot for me. I’m really happy to be going there.”
Ten picks later at No. 17, former Kentucky teammate James Young was selected by the NBA's other storied franchise, the Boston Celtics.
UK Coach Calipari, who was on hand in Brooklyn, N.Y., has had has 19 players -- including Enes Kanter, who was ineligible -- drafted in his five seasons at UK, and 15 of those have been drafted in the first round.
Never miss a local story.
“We had him on our board much better than the No. 7 selection, so we were surprised when he was there," Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. "He competes hard. He plays hard. He loves contact. A great kid. Those are attributes that anybody would love to have on an NBA team."
Leading up to the draft, Randle said that he has always been a big fan of Kobe Bryant and that he would like to play for the Lakers.
“He was my favorite player," Randle told the Los Angeles Daily News. "I loved Kobe’s persona and swagger and how he played. He was someone I always looked up to at a young age.
“It would be extremely fun,” Randle said. “I could learn a lot from him and talk to one of the greatest, if not the greatest player of all time. There’s a lot I could learn from and pick his brain in just how to get better and dealing with adversity.”
Bryant tweeted his support of the pick Thursday night: “Welcome Home _@J30_RANDLE from one legendary institution to one epic franchise.”
Randle joked that Bryant's opinion might change once they're around each other more.
"He may be tired of me," Randle said. "I'm going to be bugging him, trying to learn as much as I can."
Randle said one thing he and Bryant have in common is their mindset.
"I demand a lot from my teammates as well," he said. "I think I bring a lot to L.A."
It wasn't clear whether Randle's falling to the Lakers had anything to do with his right foot. It might need minor surgery that could keep him out of summer-league play.
"Different doctors have different opinions but as far as the (start of the regular season), I'll be there," Randle said.
Kupchak said the injury was something that the Lakers considered.
“It’s something that, of course, we looked into," Kupchak said. "And anytime a player has a prior injury it’s a concern. But we didn’t think it was something that was career threatening. It was something that was discussed and we felt comfortable moving ahead.
The Celtics ended up taking guard with both of their first-round picks. Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart was the sixth overall selection.
"I had both of these guys in my top 11," Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said, according to the team's website. "James' MO is that he's always been a scorer. We felt he is a very undervalued scoring wing. We were surprised he was available."
When asked what he'll contribute to the Celtics, Young said, "Definitely bring a lot of energy. ... Just put a lot of points on the board."
Earlier Thursday, ESPN reported that Young had missed five workouts after being in a minor car accident. So that could have factored in him falling just outside the lottery.
Stevens didn't seem to mind his team's good fortune.
"I think he can play some 2, I think he can play some 3 against certain teams," Stevens told ESPN Boston. "We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. But he’s a player. And anybody that’s a player, who can put the ball on the floor and put the ball in the basket -- we’ve talked about our struggles to score -- he’s a guy that can create offense."
Randle was the fourth Wildcat selected by the Lakers in the history of the program and the first since Joe Crawford in 2008. Young was the fourth player taken by the Celtics and first since Ron Mercer in 1997.
Calipari was happy to see Randle and Young end up with the Celtics and the Lakers.
He tweeted: "The Lakers & Celtics are the 2 most storied programs in the NBA & our guys are headed to both. What could be better?"